Bat Festival: Stellaluna author is coming!

Mark your calendars for Sept. 27, when the 13th annual Great Lakes Bat Festival will happen 10 am - 5 pm at Washtenaw Community College. This festival is presented by the Organization for Bat Conservation and Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum. Among authors and speakers will be Janell Cannon, who wrote and illustrated the classic picture book Stellaluna. The festival offers families a chance to learn about the fascinating world of bats. Check it out!

Australian illustrator and writer Shaun Tan

If you haven't picked up a book by Australian illustrator and writer Shaun Tan before, drop everything you're doing and check him out. Winning awards since 1992 for his illustrations - including the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award (an international award recognizing outstanding individuals' career contributions to children's literature), two Hugo Awards for Best Professional Artist, and even an Academy Award for Best Short Film for an adaptation of his book The Lost Thing - Shaun Tan is an artistic force to be reckoned with.

His wordless graphic novel The Arrival made a splash when it came out in 2006, and his follow up Tales from Outer Suburbia was a big hit in the US as well. This year Tan released a book called Rules of Summer, and it's a must see.

Rules of Summer follow the lives of two boys who explain the "rules" they learned over one summer. By no means wordy, Rules of Summer is primarily a visual exploration of the fantasy world the boys create out of their urban landscape. It's a story of creativity and cooperation with lush visuals and a great sense of humor.

New Picture Book - Brimsby's Hat

Are you a fan of hats? I love hats - fuzzy winter hats that keep out the snow, slouchy fashionable hats for those breezy fall days, baseball caps to protect your face from the sun in summer. I especially love the dashing hats in Andrew Prahin's Brimsby's Hats, a new children's picture book about a lonely hat maker who seeks out new friends when his old friend moves away. The illustrations are adorably cartoony with bold lines and vivid colors, and the story is one that values creativity. Don't miss this new addition to our collection!

For other favorite picture books about hats, check out Jon Klassen's I Want My Hat Back and This Is Not My Hat.

Wonderful Youth Poetry Books

The summer may be starting to wind down, but there's still plenty of time to read! One often-forgotten genre in the world of kid's books is poetry. There is a ton of great youth poetry out there beyond Shel Silverstein and Jack Prelutsky (beloved as they are) and it's often short, sweet, and funny. Poetry can sometimes seem intimidating to get into, but the books below are anything but! With the summertime left to us, why not try out some of this awesome genre?

Mirror Mirror: A book of reversible verse and Follow Follow: a book of reverso verse, both by Marilyn Singer, are retellings of fairy tales with a twist: they tell one point of view read top to bottom, and another point of view when read bottom to top. Figuring out which fairy tale each story is telling is a lot of fun, plus the illustrations are gorgeous.

Following up the fairy tale theme, Forgive Me, I Meant to Do It: false apology poems by Gail Carson Levine is full of fairy tale characters who aren't REALLY sorry for their misbehavior and use poems to falsely apologize a la William Carlo William's poem "This is Just to Say."

Last, but not least, we have This Is Just to Say: poems of apology and forgiveness by Joyce Sidman. This book features a (fictional) class of sixth graders writing poems asking for forgiveness for various infractions, both serious and less so, with a corresponding second half in which the poem recipients write their own poems in response. If you like your poetry to have a little narrative to it, this one is for you.

Go forth and explore poetry!

Get an Inside Look at the White House...When Audrey Met Alice

Ever wonder what life is like for a kid in the White House? Then check out When Audrey Met Alice by Rebecca Behrens.

Thirteen-year-old Audrey Rhodes became the First Daughter when her mother was elected the first female President of the United States. Sadly, life in the White House is far more frustrating than fun. After her last hope of making friends at her new school is ruined by a security breach, Audrey feels alone and miserable. Then she discovers the diary of Alice Roosevelt, eldest child of Theodore Roosevelt and a former First Daughter herself. Alice seems to understand exactly how Audrey is feeling, and while reading about the lively and rebellious Alice – whose antics included taking her pet garter snake, Emily Spinach, to dinner parties and sneaking a boy into the White House by dressing him up like a girl – Audrey decides to try out a little of Alice’s rebellious spirit. By channeling Alice, Audrey is eventually able to stand up for a cause both she and Alice believe in – marriage equality.

I have been a big fan of Alice Roosevelt ever since reading the wonderful picture-book biography What To Do About Alice? by Barbara Kerley, and so I loved getting to learn more about Alice and her White House adventures. Readers who enjoy spunky female characters and kids who stand up for what they believe in will definitely enjoy meeting Alice for themselves.

Cozy Classics

If you ever get tired of checking out the same board books about shapes and colors, you can round out your board book reading with Cozy Classics. Each of these adorable little books feature classic stories such as Moby Dick, Pride and Prejudice, and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Each classic tale is condensed into 12 words that relate to a child’s world such as “friend,” “mean,” or “chase.” On the page opposite each word appears a needle-felted illustration that provides a visual for the plot. These illustrations are gorgeous in their detail and their beauty alone is a good reason to check out these books.

Parents who know the original stories will enjoy these books and may also appreciate the opportunity to introduce their little ones to such great works of literature so early.

“Enchanting… a service to literate families everywhere” ~ The Wall Street Journal
“Capture[s] the imagination of young readers” ~ Reading Rainbow

If you like the concept of introducing your young children to classic literature but the Cozy Classics aren't appealing to you, try a BabyLit book. These books teach concepts such as opposites and the weather with the backdrop of stories such as Sense and Sensibility and Wuthering Heights.

Art Table: Chalk It Up!

Hey kiddos! Next time you’re in the youth area downtown visit the art table and see what’s new! This month we’re working with chalk. We have colorful sidewalk chalk and chalkboards ready for you to create a masterpiece, erase it, and start all over!

Chalk artist Julian Beever uses a technique called anamorphosis in his amazing 3D effect large scale chalk drawings. To read more about his process and see samples, check out the book Pavement chalk artist: the three-dimensional drawings of Julian Beever.

"Oldies but Goodies!"

There are so many fun kids’ books out there from recent years that sometimes we forget about the great older books that are still fantastic reads today! If you or your children are looking for something new to read, why not try something “old?”

Newbery Medal winner The Westing Game, first published in 1978, is a wonderfully mind-twisting tale of a group of people—all potential heirs to the inheritance of an eccentric millionaire—who must race one another to solve the mystery of his death before one of them can claim the money. The fun quirks of the different characters keep the book interesting and funny, and make this a great story for older elementary readers.

A Long Way From Chicago, published in 1998, and its companion, A Year Down Yonder (2000), both by Richard Peck, are fantastic read-aloud stories and audio books. The Newbery Medal-winning A Long Way From Chicago is really a series of short stories, told from the perspective of a young boy who visits his wild grandmother with his sister during the Great Depression. Their visits produce all sorts of experiences and memories and make for a wonderful, heart-warming story that has stuck with me since I first had the book read to me in, well, 1998.

The Phantom Tollbooth (1961) opens with a terribly bored boy who can never find anything to do that amuses him. Arriving home from school one day to find a mysterious gift in his bedroom, he is ultimately transported to a magical land where he has grand adventures and even goes on a quest to save two princesses trapped in a castle in the air! Reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland, this is an endlessly entertaining story with lots of great puns and wordplay.

Other lovely “older” reads are: All-of-a-Kind Family (1951), From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (1967), Our Only May Amelia (1999), Harriet the Spy (1964), The Borrowers (1953), and Bud Not Buddy (1999).

Roar said Dragon!

This week in Ms. Amanda’s preschool storytimes we read books about dragons! Dragons who breathe fire and eat castles in The Paper Bag Princess, dragons who are looking for a friend in A Friend For Dragon, and dragons who count and make way too much noise in One Drowsy Dragon. Which shows you that not all dragons are as fierce as Smaug.

For more picture books featuring dragons check out this nice list. And to see what else we've been reading at storytimes this summer check out this list of books.

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